Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Nursery Prep: Alphabet Wall Art


Check.  Another project off my list!


I have this big blank wall behind the guest bed/futon in the nursery, so I went to my favorite resource to find something cute and inexpensive to put there - Etsy!  I love Etsy, and not just because I'm a seller on Etsy - I love the concept of supporting handmade.  These nature themed alphabet wall cards are adorable and also eco-friendly; they're made using 100% recycled cardstock.  They're from Art and Philanthropy, and they have tons of cute prints - and come in different languages!


I put them up using jute twine and miniature clothespins.  Somebody with preggo brain - I won't name names - didn't pay attention to the count listed on the package of 24 clothespins, so I had to run back to JoAnn's and get another pack to finish the project.  Here are some of my favorites:




Aren't they just adorable?


Oh, and here's a tip if you have plaster walls like we do.  Put a piece of masking or painter's tape on the wall before you hammer a nail in.  This keeps the plaster from chipping away from the hole.  After you've pounded your nail in, just tear away the tape and you'll have a perfect wall around the nail.

Sumo's Sweet Stuff

monogram






Childmade

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Learning Photoshop Actions

Call me chicken, or better yet an ostrich because I've been putting my head in the sand when it comes to Photoshop Elements.  I've had the software on my computer since before Arden was born, but every time I went to try to play around with it I just got stuck and gave up.  My eyes glazed over when I would read the wonderful tutorials on fixing things using Photoshop.  I've been using Picnik, which is SUPER easy and free for most of the tools, but apparently doesn't give the same results. 

Something came over me a couple of weeks ago, and I finally put my big girl panties on and made a serious attempt to actually use the stinkin' thing.  I searched for "free Photoshop Elements actions" and up popped some really nice actions from The Pioneer Woman with great instructions from Texas Chicks Blogs & Pics on how to load them and then use them.

This kick in the pants coincided nicely with an outing I took with Arden to our local county fair to see the animals.  We got there before they were even collecting money for parking, so they directed us to park between the old horse barns if there was room.  There was, and the horse barns were these great weathered barn wood, but painted a gorgeous shade of blue!

Here are the pictures I snapped - straight out of the camera and with some of Pioneer Woman's actions applied:

 







Now I'm feeling a teensy bit more confident in my plan to be the family photographer going forward.  I really like these.  Sorry I don't remember which of the actions these were - there were several that I really liked, and you can combine them to create custom looks. 

I still have a long ways to go, but at least I've started, right?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Blogiversary Repost: DIY Play Refrigerator

This is still one of the best projects I've made.  Arden uses it nearly every day and it's held up really well.  She mostly takes the magnets off the front, but she plays with the food on the shelves inside more than the play stove that I made it to go with.  If I need a few minutes to get something done in the kitchen, I can always ask her to go play with hers.  Works for me!  


I am super-geeked about this project.  Arden loves it already, and I am pretty darn pleased with myself for making it for her!  Super-hubby Dave has been busy with major outdoor projects for several recent weekends (fence installation, garage demolition), so I decided that Labor day weekend would be my DIY weekend.  I was inspired by Brittany on Mommy Words post for a DIY Play Kitchen.  I found the same plans on Lowe's that Brittany used.

First, to get a little time without "help" from Arden.  The win-win solution:  A hike with Daddy!

  1. I had the plywood cut at Lowe's.  Since I don't have a table saw, this seemed like the easiest solution.  They didn't even charge me a cutting fee.  I had to cut the 1x6x8 board for the rails, stiles, toe kick, and cleats using a skill saw.
  2. Construction of the box.  The plans called for actual cabinetry construction with pocket screws.  I didn't think this required that level of craftsmanship, so I glued and nailed the box together, and then glued and nailed the rails and stiles, etc. to the box.  Much quicker and in the end, way easier to fudge the inaccurate cuts (Lowe's, not mine of course!).
  3. I filled in the gaps, nail holes and the rough ends of the plywood with wood filler, then sanded everything down.  Arden had since returned from her hike with Daddy, and was now "helping".  Good thing she wasn't around for the sawing and hammering!  Sophie the dog also got into the action by repeatedly stealing one of the sanding blocks and running away with it.
  4. I painted the cabinet light blue to match the garage sale find kitchen play set I already had, and put the 12" deep wire shelving onto the cleats.
  5. I attached the doors to the cabinet using flush mount self-closing hinges.  Arden "helped" some more.
Now for some of the things I did that I think are really cool:
  1. I attached a Closetmaid spice rack to the inside of the refrigerator door to act like the door organizers.
  2. I made handles out of dowels painted with stainless steel spray paint to match the kitchen play set.
  3. I primed the refrigerator and freezer doors with magnetic paint before painting them the darker blue to match the kitchen play set.  Now she can attach magnets to her completed refrigerator!  I love it!
So, here's the completed project with the kitchen play set I was matching it to.  The scale is a little bit off, but I like the size of the play fridge for Arden.


Good luck!  This was a pretty ambitious project for me, but I think it was totally worth it and turned out really well.  Please feel free to comment with any questions.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Blogiversary Repost: Mother to Daughter Shirt Refashion

This project was my first refashion, and my entry that got me into the Project Toddler Runway competition at Shwin & Shwin!


This project started percolating after I had gone through the bins of my pre-pregnancy clothes for like the third time, trying to see if any of my favorites would fit.  A depressing task.  I know I have about 20 or so pounds to lose, but I also need to face facts that things just aren't ever going to be the same as they used to be.  My shoulders are even broader, my ribcage has spread, and after 13 months of breastfeeding, the girls have found new resting spots.

There were a couple of shirts that I loved, but I had to resign myself to the fact that even if I lost the weight they simply were never going to fit again.  I was inspired by this refashion from Kalleen At Second Street.

Here's the shirt I started with.  So long, old friend.  I loved you well!


I used a dress of Arden's as the "pattern".  More on that later.


I started by removing the collar, as the scale of the collar and the neck opening were too large for an 18-month old.


Using the inspiration dress as a pattern and using chalk to mark the cut lines, I cut the bib placket out, and cut the yoke piece for the front of the dress and the back of the dress.  I made sure to line up from the bottom of the shirt so I had finished hems to work with instead of having to do my own.


I gathered the bottom part of the yoke piece using a basting stitch and gathering the bobbin thread, just like the inspiration dress shows.  I pinned it together matching the gathers along the bottom and sewed in place, and then finished the seams with a overlock stitch, since I still haven't gotten a serger.  I attached the back of the dress to the completed front.  I had to rework the armholes and neck hole a little.


I deconstructed some of the bottom of the pintucked and ruffled placket and used those for the sleeves.  I took the cuffs off and used those pieces for the collar as they were a better scale and gave it a bit of a mandarin collar. 


Here's the finished product next to the inspiration:


It's totally cute on, and I'm probably the only one who notices the flaws.  So, here's what went wrong and what I learned from my first refashion attempt:
  • I should have had or made an actual pattern.  I used dressmakers chalk and a constructed dress as my pattern, which ended up being very haphazard.
  • I needed to have a better plan in mind before I started.  It all came together, but using the placket as sleeves was not my original intention, and I had to piece the front part of the dress together because I had already cut a big hole in the back of my shirt for the dress back.
  • This was supposed to be a dress, but it's more tunic length.  Again, I didn't plan well and a pattern would have ensured that I kept the length.

I have two more shirts that I plan to do something similar with.  Hopefully, I can take my learnings from this refashion and get something even cuter next time!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Blogiversary Repost: Arden's Nursery Peg Rail

As part of my Blogiversary week, I'm re-posting some of my early blog posts, but trying to go back and fix things up a bit.  Here goes:


One of the main features of Arden's nursery is a peg rail going around the room.  The idea was a bit of a collaboration between my mother and myself.  I knew I wanted some kind of a detail going around the room, but I didn't like the idea of a chair rail.  Mom suggested using knobs, an idea which I really liked.  Once we had a general idea in place, I began getting the nursery put together.  

I didn't want a super girlie-girl room, since the ultrasound tech didn't seem 100% sure that Arden really was a girl (she was).  So, I went with two shades of green - lighter on top and darker on bottom for most of the room, and used the lighter green for the funky angles and little nook where the bench and two closets are.  Pardon the picture of my gigantic belly, but it's the only picture I have showing the painted room before the peg rail.


25 Week Bump
 Then I had to source the knobs.  I wanted to find vintage/antique glass and metal knobs, but a couple of trips to the local antiques center yielded nothing.  I found a few knobs at Home Depot, but I still wasn't finding the right mix of knobs.  I found an online store called myknobs.com (I know, a bit obvious, but they had what I was looking for), and rounded out my selection of knobs.

I got 7/16" x 2 5/8" pine molding to make the rails out of and painted them white.  Since these were cabinet knobs and meant to mount on something of which you could access the back, I had to attach the knobs to the rail before installing it.  As the lumber was thinner than a standard cabinet, I also had to get shorter screws of the same diameter so the knobs would lie flush to the lumber.  I measured and cut the boards to the lengths for the wall sections, and planned out where the knobs would go.  I think I used 11" spacing, with the knobs centered on the wall sections for shorter sections.

I drilled the holes for the screws at the marked intervals.  I needed the screw head to be below the surface of the board so it would mount flat on the wall, so I drilled a shallow hole on the back of the board larger than the screw head.  I put tape around the drill bit to ensure I didn't drill too deep.


Drilling the shallow hole on the back of the board. Sophie is "helping
 
Then I attached the knobs using the shorter screw.  They needed to be on good, as I wouldn't be able to access the screw again once the boards were installed.


Then I attached the pieces to the wall using finish nails.  I filled the nail holes and asked my brother to caulk along the top and bottom of the boards to get a nice finish. 




Awesome sign made by my AXO sister Tina Doepker
 I put up the curtains and all the bedding and had carpet installed.  The dresser and desk were my childhood set that I painted black and changed out the hardware several years back.  We got a black crib and everything looks really nice together.  The crib is convertible to a toddler and then full size bed, so it will grow with Arden. 
The peg rail has turned out to be way handier than I ever anticipated.  We have signs, the diaper stacker, wet bags, coats, blankets, and towels hung on the knobs all around the room.  Here's a photo showing it in action during Arden's first bath at home:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

1st Blogiversary

Today is the 1st Blogiversary of A Jennuine Life.  Where has the time gone?  I thought I'd take this week to re-share my first post and some of my early projects, but edit the photos better and update any changes that have occurred.  Sort of a best of (or worst - since I was still learning?) with fixes.

So, here's my introduction post from August 20, 2010:

So, this is where I'm supposed to say something incredibly witty about myself and why I'm starting this blog.  Well.  Umm.  Here goes nothing.  Can't promise witty, but it will be about me and why I'm starting this blog


I'm a 30-something mother to Arden, my adorable little girl who I love more than my arms can hold.  I'm currently 34 weeks pregnant with my second daughter.    My awesome physicist husband Dave and I have been married for 3 4 years.  We have two black labs named Laser and Sophie, and three cats named Erwin, Otto, and Poe.  We didn't start out intending to have a menagerie, but between his cats (Erwin and Otto), my cats (Bailey and Frank), losing two cats (Frank and later diabetic Bailey) fostering a PAWS With a Cause dog (Laser), the PAWS dog getting "career changed" and we decided to keep the frustrating but loveable lug, adopting a friend for said lug (Sophie), and finding a discarded black cat (Poe) just before Halloween one year, stuff happens.  I'm a sometimes runner and former (and hopefully future) marathoner.  I spent over ten years training and teaching Muay Thai and while I miss how empowered and fit that made me feel, I really don't miss the time investment or all the bruises!

I've been crafting as long as I can remember.  I made doll's clothes while staying with my grandma on her antique Singer.  My mom taught me how to cross-stitch when I was little, and we sewed a whole bedding ensemble for my cabbage patch doll Krissy Lynn.  Later Mom taught me how to crochet (which I've since forgotten), and let me go with her to her monthly craft group, and occasionally sit in on her weekly stitch gathering.  As an adult, I learned how to quilt, and tried to start my own craft group where a friend taught me how to knit.  During my pregnancy, my nesting instinct took the form of sewing and knitting, and I made burp cloths out of cloth diapers, quilts for expecting friends, and knitted like a woman posessed.  After Arden was born, I made my husband and my brother-in-law "man slings" after Dave kept poaching my pink one.  Now, I'm trying to begin a small business selling "simply sweet designs for tiny people" on Etsy.

My Dad was a home builder and instilled in me a can-do attitude.  I'm not afraid of power tools, and am willing to try anything once.  I've tiled my own bathroom, re-fashioned an antique window into a shadow box/shelf, made a rolling ottoman out of a drawer, and re-screened a sliding door to name a few.

I hope you find something I write here interesting, funny, helpful, or inspirational.

Gotta run,

Jenn

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Arden Sings the Blues

video

Arden has begun singing quite a bit lately.  She sings herself to sleep - we get to listen over the monitor and it's so sweet...  she serenades me with the same line of "Jingle Bells" over and over on the drive into daycare in the mornings...  and now Dave has her singing the blues while they get ready for bed.

This is a really blurry and dimly lit video, but the important part is the audio.

Nobody knows the troubles I've seen....  Priceless!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Kid's Duffel

We interrupt today's regularly scheduled post about nursery prep, or how huge my belly is getting, or how adorable I think my daughter is to bring you...


A kid's duffel!  I made this for my nephew Jack who is turning the big zero-five this week.


I had to work my daughter in there somewhere, of course!  But really, there's a reason.  The yellow duffel on the floor in the background is one I've had since I was a little girl.  One of my Mom's good friends made it for me and it has been well-used over the years.  I modeled Jack's duffel after this one, and it is currently storing a stash of beanie babies that Arden discovered and quickly dragged all about, presenting one to each of us.


You can see a favorite in her arm - that's Shamrock the St. Patrick's Day bear.  She chose a green bear with a soccer ball on it named Kicks to send with the birthday package to Jack.


This is one of those projects that I'm happy to say turned out even better than I had imagined.  I had the fabric from a recent trip to IKEA, so I only had to get the cotton webbing and the rope cording.  It's a heavier home furnishing fabric, so I hope it will stand up well to an energetic little boy.  I used the embroidery feature on Jane (my sewing machine) to make the name tag with a bit of the webbing.  I don't expect this to be carried around in public, so I figured a name on the outside should be okay.


I added the handle/carrying strap to make it a little more like a military duffel.  I can just picture him packing his overnight essentials for a trip to Grandma & Grandpa's house!

I'm considering making these in boy's and girl's version to sell in my Etsy shop.  Do you think they'd sell?
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